Becoming your own bosses is the dream of most working Americans.

Well, before plunging into the capital markets, writing a stock prospectus or buying a wholesaler's license, it's smart to think through whether you have what it takes to be the boss. Eighty percent of new entrepreneurs fail because of insufficient capital and/or poor management. What's not so well known is the kind of personal characteristics most successful entrepreneurs possess. Check yourself:

"Am I able to spend my own money and borrow other people's money on behalf of my enterprise?"

Plenty of otherwise capable people can't spend money on themsleves. A debt to others (or a debt to themselves!) is a no-no. But using other people's money (and our own) is a qualification of self-employment.

"Am I able to take responsibility?"

Becoming your own boss means no buck-passing, no "system" to blame. It means taking responsibility for your own failures and successes.

"Am I able to take a sharp reduction in come?"

Enterpreneurs plow back earnings into the business. Real income - your "salary" - is often reduced. And if spendable earnings are a measure of your self-esteem, your feelings about yourself could plummet. The real commpensation for becoming your own boss is psychic: Being self-reliant is worth more than a paid vaction on someone else's payroll.

"Am I able to price my product and service?"


The vast majority of people who try self-employment anf fail underprice . They don't pay themselves back for the cost of being in business or the the cost of being in business or the risks they take. Nor do they cost-out the time it takes to make an idea work and factor it into their price. Time, risk and being in business are the hidden-capital expenditures of ideas entrepreneurs put into action.

"Am I able to make mistakes?"

Becoming your own boss means making your own decisions. Making your own decisions means making mistakes. People who can't make decisions don't make mistakes, but can't become self-employed. Being able to drop the gate on a great idea (which isn't working), firing your best friend (who isn't paying his way), and cutting your losses is essential.Entrepreneurs are bound to make some right decisions. The trick is to stop doing what is losing money.

"Do I have the self-discipline?"

Everybody hates discipline. But becoming your own boss means becoming your own worst critic, censor and taskmaster. You compete against yourself: Your record. Self-discipline comes from within. Being disciplined comes from without.

"Am I able to reduce risks?"

Most self-employed types are considered risk-takers. But most successful entrepreneurs are risk-reducers. They practice their high-wire act with a net. This means doing market research on yourself and matching your skills against the market. If nobody wants what you do or you can't do what somebody wants, you aren't in business. Becoming your own boss means coping with disappointment. The fantasy of self-sufficiency (no self-employed person is), the impatience for success (it takes years to build a business following), the expectation of riches (remember, you plow back your earnings), causes disappointment. But that's reality, too. And cooperating with reality is the essence of self-employment.

"Am I able to work alone?"

If we are never less alone than when we are with ourselves, we have something of what it takes to be self-employed. But a business partnership is like marriage without the sex. Most entrepreneurs are one-man (and woman-) bands.

"Can I cope with success?"


Plenty of people who try becoming their own boss can't handle the increased independence, self-esteem and pleasure of it.To work at something (and enjoy it), to work for yourself (and not somebody else), to be self-disciplined (and not to disciplined) make us dizzy: We feel we are losing our grip - when, of course, we are taking hold. Becoming your own boss means coming to terms with the person you always wanted to be.